It's a rare issue which unites the Victorian Farmers' Federation and the Greens in furious agreement, but that is exactly what the Andrews Labor government has achieved with proposed changes to regulations governing recreational activity on Crown Land.
Recent changes expanding the rights of bushwalkers and fishers to access Crown land river frontages leased to farmers has caused widespread discontent among landholders, who argue the provisions have already caused widespread disruption to their livelihoods.
Among concerns are the dangers of fires starting from unattended or poorly-managed camps, dogs getting amongst stock, 4WDs and firearms used on their properties with agreement, biosecurity being compromised, fences damaged or cut, rubbish and defecation spread and left, unregulated speeding PWC and boat use, and the dangers of confrontation with aggressive, drunk or unruly members of the public.
I mean if you ask a person in the city whether or not someone's allowed to go and camp on their nature strip, they would probably think that was a ludicrous ideaEmma Germano, VFF president
One farmer contacted by The Courier said he was now afraid to leave his property after a newborn calf was stolen by fishers, while another feared for farm biosecurity.
The government's new proposal would allow campers to set up on Crown river frontages for up to 28 days, following changes to the Land Act 1958 last year.
Lobby groups such as VRFish, the 'Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body' argue the new laws and proposals have "identified that many river access points, including roads, have been illegally closed off to the public by stealth over decades and needs to be rectified."
"The new laws that permit camping have also generated overdue clarity that Crown land water frontages are public land," VRFish have written on their website.
That is decidedly not the view of VFF president Emma Germano, who said the proposals were "ill-conceived from the outset."
"At the moment, agriculture gets asked to be responsible for a lot of things on behalf of virtue signalling governments coming up with these nice ideas, when they haven't thought through the practical applications," Ms Germano said.
"Farmers have been asked to open up their properties and in some cases create a huge amount of risk on behalf of people who just simply want to go camping. I mean if you ask a person in the city whether or not someone's allowed to go and camp on their nature strip, they would probably think that was a ludicrous idea. Yet this is exactly what we're being asked to sign up to."
Ms Germano says she's spoken with 40 or 50 aggrieved landowners, some of whom have had long-established relationships with people who use their land for recreation. Those agreements may now end.
"The farmers know (those campers) look after their place, they've got a great relationship with them, they come back year after year," Ms Germano says.
"There's no issue with that. It's exactly what we're saying - why is it you don't have to seek permission? It actually disadvantages those campers who have done the right thing and built those relationships. Now all of a sudden they're going to get resistance, because, we're saying, 'Well if you're going to allow everybody in, then we have to lobby against everyone, which is another unintended consequence'."
Victoria's Greens agree the proposals are poorly planned, saying 60 per cent of 900 people surveyed by the party on the issue disagreed with the changes.
"The Victorian Government's rushed and terribly thought-through decision to expand camping on licenced river frontages could have long-lasting impacts on our environment if it isn't managed properly, Greens deputy leader Ellen Sandell said.
"Without adequate regulations we could see risks from escaped campfires, impacts on trees and vegetation, shooting of wildlife, and impacts on stock.
"When the bill came through Parliament my office was inundated by local landowners, residents, and Landcare groups who were all concerned, and when I raised these concerns with the government, they didn't really have any answers."
The new laws that permit camping have also generated overdue clarity that Crown land water frontages are public landVRFish website
In response to Courier questions, a spokesperson for the Minister for Fishing and Boating Melissa Horne said the government was delivering on a commitment made to Victorians at the 2018 election, saying it was welcomed by over 800,000 fishers and campers.
"The new regulations will give Victorian Fisheries Authority power to prosecute people who chose to disregard Victorian laws; there will be a 24-hour hotline for reporting misconduct and the Victorian Fisheries Authority will continue to work together with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria and Victoria Police to enforce the regulations once they are in place."
Sources within the government departments have confidentially told The Courier the new arrangements are an 'administrative nightmare' and are already unenforceable and dangerous.
VRFish did not respond to a request for an interview.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.